April 13, 2017
By Paula Goodwin
A sure sign of spring is the sight of anglers at the edge of streams and ponds, or casting from boats on the water. Fishing is enjoyed by many people of all ages as a relaxing pastime. For residents new to the area, and for those just getting started, fishing conditions are best when the water level is high and temperature cool, as it is in April and May. There are many places to fish the local streams, rivers and ponds in Acton and Boxborough and the most sought after fish are trout. OARS collaborates with Concord Outfitters and the Greater Boston Chapter of Trout Unlimited to improve trout habitat and populations in the Assabet River.
According to the OARS website, “The aim of this project is to re-establish a self-sustaining population of brown trout in the river. Brown trout have historically been found in the mainstem Assabet and are a good choice for restoration because they can tolerate higher water temperatures – – typical of a larger river — than native brook trout can.” The Concord Outfitters website provides a River reports page with current USGS Water Level data and helpful notes about current flies of choice for fly fishing enthusiasts. This spring, Concord Outfitters has already stocked the Assabet River with trout. MassWildlife will be stocking Fort Pond Brook, Nashoba Brook and Guggins Brook with Rainbow and Brown trout within the next few weeks.
The history of state fisheries and hatcheries was shared by Dr. Ken Simmons of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) in a speech he gave on March 27, 2014. Due to water degradation during the industrial revolution, Simmons said, “By 1856 the public outcry by the citizens of Massachusetts was so great that the very first commission was created with fish experiments and in fish culture. This early experimentation and public need to both heal and repopulate our fish population in our state eventually led to the creation of the Massachusetts Fish Commission in 1866.” With the creation of this commission, the first state trout hatchery was opened in the year 1868 in Wareham. Currently, there are four hatcheries in Massachusetts: in Belchertown, Sandwich, Sunderland and Montague. Along with stocked trout, local waters are habitats for a variety of other freshwater fishes.
During the June, 2016 Acton WildAware Bioblitz, resident Matthew Ashby contributed his findings:
•Assabet River in South Acton, upstream of the bridge by the Canoe Launch on Powdermill Road his list included Black Crappie, Smallmouth Bass, Bluegill, Fallfish, Redbreast Sunfish, and Pumpkinseeds; Brown trout (stocked). He also noted Brown caddisflies laying eggs on the water.
• Ice House Pond, likely 3 Pumpkinseeds guarding their nests and one Smallmouth bass about 7″ long.
•At the pond at Great Hill: an abundance of Pumpkinseeds, one big Smallmouth bass nearly a foot long.
•At NARA Park: Hundreds of Pumpkinseeds and dozens of Smallmouth bass.
• To fish Grassy Pond, Matthew recommends that you’d want to portage a canoe in unless your preference is to fish from the pier. He advises that for the most part Guggins Brook’s water level drops too low to hold fish after June.
Free, public access and parking are available! For Ft. Pond Brook:
* Jones Field, South Acton, behind the playground. After the Assabet River Rail Trail is finished, there will be parking at the trailhead opposite the South Acton Trail Station on Maple Street.
* Weekends only, on the bridge between Gates and Douglas Schools in West Acton. Do not go during school hours.
* Park on Carriage Drive and fish along Ft. Pond Brook along River Street. Put a sign “fishing along River Street” on the windshield so the Police know.
* Jenks Conservation Land, from the parking lot- walk down the trail and fish in Ft. Pond Brook down the trail.
* Fort Pond Brook-Mill Pond (impoundment) Park at 110 Main Street in a general municipal lot. For Nashoba Brook:
* Park at the end of Wheeler Lane and get a map of Nashoba Brook conservation land. There are places to fish. Ice House Pond – On Concord Road Assabet River:
* Acton Canoe Launch 65 Powder Mill Road NARA Pond in NARA Park Grassy Pond, in conservation land 236 Nagog Hill Road Guggins Brook Conservation Land, Boxborough
A Guide to Eating Fish Safely in Massachusetts http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/docs/dph/environmental/exposure/fish-eating-guide.pdf
Massachusetts Fish and Wildife Guide to Hunting, Fresh Water Fishing and Trapping: http://www.eregulations.com/massachusetts/huntingandfishing/
Massachusetts State Fish Hatcheries http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2016/06/cold_water_state_fish_hatchery.html
Fish and Aquatic Conservation https://www.fws.gov/fisheries/nfhs/fish_production.html
Fishing in Acton and Boxborough http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dfg/dfw/hunting-fishing-wildlife- watching/fishing/northeast-district-waters.html
OARS Fish Stocking http://www.oars3rivers.org/our-work/initiatives/fish-stocking
Massachusetts Fishing License: https://www.ma.wildlifelicense.com/IS/Customer/InternetCustomerSearch
Trout Unlimited in Massachusetts: http://ma-ri-tu-council.org/
Visit Massachusetts State Fish Hatcheries-information http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dfg/dfw/about-masswildlife/state-fish-hatcheries.html
Athol Daily New-Dr. Ken Simmons http://atholdailynews.com/history-massachusetts-division-fisheries-and-wildlife-highlighted-mahar-fish-game-banquet